February 13, 2015


Simply By Forming an Exploratory Committee, Jeb Bush Places School Reform on the National Agenda (Paul E. Peterson 12/17/2014, EducationNext)

[I]n 2016 neither Jeb Bush's Republican primary opponents nor Hillary Clinton nor even Elizabeth Warren will be able to ignore the poor state of the nation's schools.  For they will be facing a candidate with the strongest school reform credentials any presidential candidate has ever had.

Neither Carter nor W. had credentials equivalent to those of Florida's former governor.  When in office, Jeb persuaded the legislature to introduce a massive new reading program, created an accountability system that included vouchers for students who were attending failing schools, founded the nation's first statewide digital learning school, asked districts to hold back for another year those third graders who were unable to read, introduced a high school exit exam, established the country's most comprehensive warehouse of education data, and much more.  During his tenure in office, student performance in Florida skyrocketed upward at a faster rate than in virtually any other part of the United States.  The gains were particularly strong among Florida's Hispanic students who according to one study outperform, on average, all the students in the State of California.

Admittedly, for the modern 24-hour news cycle, those accomplishments are stuck in the distant past.  Jeb was a term-limited governor who served from 1999 to 2006, long before many of today's reporters had come of age.  But after leaving office the former governor established the Foundation for Excellence in Education (ExcelinEd) and, from that platform, has campaigned for Florida-like reforms throughout the country.  He helped create Chiefs for Change, a group of state education officers from Maine to New Mexico who have committed themselves to altering the education status quo.  The many state-level policy changes of recent years owe a lot to the jump start given by the Obama Administration's Race to the Top initiative, Republican gains at the state level in 2010 and the leadership of other potential presidential candidates, such as Chris Christie, Scott Walker, and Bobby Jindahl.   But ExcelinEd and the former Florida Governor have also played a critical role, especially in the West and the South.

Posted by at February 13, 2015 7:56 PM

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